Homestead happenings: in love
I have fallen in love with fall.
I’m in love with the rumpled quilt of oaks draped across the hillsides; or how the trees undress themselves, leafy garments at their feet; or the way the flaming yellow cottonwoods light up the Animas valley like living luminarias. It’s all so breathtakingly gorgeous, this last flare up of life.
I say for the 453rd time to the kids “look at those cottonwoods! Isn’t that yellow amazing?” But their vision is filtered through a micro lens, they’d prefer one single cottonwood leaf in their hand than a forest gone psychedelic through a car window.
The habitat Col built for his lizard this morning surely ranks higher on his beauty scale.
Every week for the past month I’ve been writing this same thing in my notebook: we are sunseekers now, as if this is strange and noteworthy news. This preference for sun started casually back in September, like hey, wanna go sit on the sunny side of the park? Now, we’re like junkies who would deconstruct playground equipment, chop down tree limbs for a hit of sun on our skin. Let me know when coldframes for humans are invented.
Behold. The last, I swear, the very last box of tomatoes:
Which I wouldn’t have even bought if they weren’t 75cents/pound, and if I hadn’t thawed a freezer bag of homemade pasta sauce the night before which became, deliciously, instant dinner, but which also put the panic in me that the 21 quarts of sauce I had put up would not, in fact, be enough until next July. (Somebody save me from myself). And so I called Tomato Dude’s number, scrawled out haphazardly on a scrap of paper by a friend. And the whole thing had this slightly clandestine quality, like trying to score pot in junior high from the random number your older sister’s boyfriend gives you. Next day, dude shows up in my driveway with his boxes of beat-up October tomatoes and his semi-functioning scale and Dan comes home in mid-transaction and I felt like I had to explain.
So, do y’all know about the crowd of 20-somethings who live downstairs from us? Some details here. Anyway, it’s awesome, they love to hang out with Col and Rose between pilgrimages to the desert for primitive skills workshops, or mango-worshipping in Costa Rica or working their three jobs.
You know how I can tell they’re still in their twenties? They’re so unencumbered, so light you can almost see through them as they glide around, never having spent a minute frowning over a growth chart or trying to insert a bulb syringe into a screaming, snot-packed newborn. They go on long summer roadtrips and report: “It was awesome – just two bachelors and a dog touring the West in a van; we woke up every morning and said, where should we go now?” You just shouldn’t be allowed to say that to a parent.
I love having them on the property: drinking wine while carving pumpkins in the garden, playing bluegrass music on the swingset, feeding Col and Rose curried quinoa.
Last week the kids and I were peering out of our upstairs windows and spotted a wild-haired young man scanning the garden as if he had lost something there. Turns out it was a friend of downstairs-dweller Naima, and he was en route to Guatemala, via bicycle. Reid planned on staying just a few days, but got sucked into the Durango vortex like many-a-traveler before. He stayed two weeks and every morning he’d ask cheerily “do you have any work for me in the garden?” He hauled buckets of rainwater to the greenhouse, plucked copious mint leaves for this recipe, harvested tomatoes and played with the kids. “He’s the best decoy we’ve had yet,” Dan observed. (Decoy defined: someone who distracts children from their parents).
I pleaded with Reid to stay in Durango, to be our live-in nanny/mint-picker. But he smiled and said “It’s too easy here in Durango.” The kids and I watched him pack up on his last day here, washing the grit off his bike, pumping up tires and stuffing his banjo into its case. The mom in me wanted to know what his plans were, who was he staying with next, where was he headed in Central America, if he had enough food and money.
He didn’t have anyone else, planned, to stay with for the next long stretch into the southern hemisphere, but he assured me he had enough food and money, plenty of time and nowhere to be. Enough money, plenty of time and nowhere to be. Since then, that line has rattled around my brain trying to find a place to lodge. When I was 26, I was shacked up with Dan, a recent homeowner and regularly all angst-ified, scratching out words in my notebook while the word “career” taunted me, dangling around my head like a 2-sided mask of an angel and devil.
I wish my 38-year old self could have poked my 26-year old self on the shoulder and said “Hey, psst, right now you have enough food and money, plenty of time and nowhere to be. Savor it.”
And if you see me, remind me that I still have enough food and money, plenty of time, and the most important place I need to be is right here, falling in love with fall, with these small, beautiful people:
How about you? What would you tell your 26 year old self? Or yourself today?